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Highlights of Recent NFB:AE Activities

  • New Contractors

We are pleased to welcome Allan Shaw of Toronto as our new Coordinator and Geoff Fierce of Winnipeg as our new Public Information Coordinator. Allan has extensive experience in the IT field and is a Financial Planner. Geoff has 10 years of valuable experience with disability work. They join Karen Leboe, Lois Benko and Monika Penner, and together give us a strong team of contractors for the year ahead.

  • 2004 Scholarship Program

The deadline to apply for NFB:AE Scholarships in 2004 has been changed to October 15, 2004. Full details will appear in the next issue of the Canadian Blind Monitor, on our website and will be distributed widely to colleges and universities throughout Canada.

  • 2004 AGM Set for Saskatoon

The 2004 AGM will be held in Saskatoon on Saturday, May 15, 2004.

  • Accessible Banking

At our 2003 Montreal conference, Resolution 2003-4 concerning accessible banking Services was adopted. Following correspondence with the TD Bank, which indicated they will not be rolling out their first automated banking machine until 2006, we have switched all of our accounts to Royal Bank Financial, the bank which introduced the first audio-enabled ABM in Canada.

  • Fast Food Restaurants

Following a series of in-depth articles in the Toronto Star in September concerning accessibility to various fast food chains in the greater Toronto area, we wrote to the head offices of several chains raising our "accessibility" issues. These usually involve access to printed menus and the quality of customer service. We are following up on this issue.

  • Toronto Chapter meets with TTC

At the Toronto Chapter's regular September meeting, Glen Johnston, Systems Accessibility Service Planner with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), made an extensive presentation on access to transportation issues that had been raised by the Chapter, and a lengthy and spirited exchange took place which was very informative. The Chapter will be discussing follow up work.

  • NFB:AE Participates in PAWS International Guide Dog Conference

Linda Bartram and Paul Thiele participated in the PAWS International Guide Dog Conference, Vancouver, October 16-18, 2003. This year's theme was "On the Move", emphasizing mobility, travel and safety of blind persons using dog guides. Conference sessions included presentations on Changes in Travel Restrictions to the United Kingdom for Dog Guide Users, Recognizing Stress in Your Guide Dog, Discrimination (Refusal of taxi and other accommodations), Dental Health of Guide and Assistance Dogs and Street Smarts of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons, plus many more.

During our Show & Tell session, Linda Bartram outlined some activities of the NFB: AE, including the expanded Mentorship Program, and Paul Thiele listed some of the planned activities as Membership Committee Chair, including plans to bring new members on board, a membership contest to find a new, catchy name for our organization and a survey of present members to determine demographics, member satisfaction and to identify areas of greater membership involvement in the running and decision-making of our organization. Both stressed the NFB: AE is very supportive of dog guides and their users and cooperation with dog guide training organizations.

Our display featured information items on the NFB:AE, including membership forms and brochures, copies of The Canadian Blind Monitor, brochures on history and goals of our organization, all in at least two or three formats. By far the most popular item were cool blue "pooper-scooper" bags, which became the "must have" item for many attendees. Most of our pamphlets and all of the scoop bags were gone by the end of the day.


Marcia Cummings represented the NFB:AE at the November 2003 ACAT meeting. The resulting recommendations to the Minister of Transport included:

  • That the Minister examine, within the mandate of the department, issues affecting seniors and persons with disabilities resulting from seat configuration (pitch and width) on aircraft.

  • That the Minister invite the airline industry to consider suggestions from ACAT consumer members on improvement of their online booking systems to accommodate identification of needs, and to improve accessibility of the websites for use with adaptive technology.

  • That the Minister require "a knowledge of accessibility issues" to be a criteria for appointment to the Board of Directors of an Airport Authority.

  • That ATAC provide consumer members with the full details of Air Canada's new meal policy, and how dietary requirements may be accommodated.

  • That the Minister has committed to an examination and report on the progress in accommodations for accessibility in new construction at the 26 National Airport System (NAS) airports.

  • That the Minister look at the membership of ACAT and consider expanding it to include a consumer organization of deaf-blind Canadians.

  • That a review of training programs in the airline industry be conducted with the goal to improve training and delivery of issues on accessibility and disability.